What Should You Do If You Have Signs of a Gallbladder Attack?


Quick Answer

Individuals experiencing a possible gallbladder attack, indicated by severe pain in the upper-right abdominal area, unexplained chills and a fever of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or more, should seek immediate medical attention, advises WebMD. This is especially important if there is also difficulty breathing, fainting or loss of consciousness.

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Individuals who have gallstones blocking a bile duct may exhibit jaundice, or a yellow tint to the skin and the whites of the eyes, according to WebMD. The urine may be a dark yellow or brown color, and stools may appear lighter than normal in color. Symptoms of gallstones often mimic the chest pain of a heart attack, with pain sometimes radiating to the right shoulder or upper back region. The pain can be constant or intermittent and often increases with eating. Gallstones blocking the bile duct increase the risk of developing pancreatitis, or a swollen pancreas.

The doctor may order an ultrasound to diagnose gallstones, but if inconclusive, another test called a gallbladder scan may be used, explains WebMD. An injected dye moves through the liver, gallbladder and intestines while X-rays capture the progression of the contrast material. The gallbladder is typically only removed if the attack is severe or if the patient has had more than one bad attack. Laparoscopic surgery is the most common method of removal, and most individuals return to normal activity within two weeks.

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